Knowing how to network effectively can be a great way to expand your professional circle. Building relationships and connecting with new contacts can open up opportunities and even present job prospects you never considered before. And through the course of growing your network and getting to know more people, you will probably even make a few good friends. To network effectively takes a little preparation, and the only way to get better at networking is to practice. But once you’re confident in yourself, networking becomes easier and more fruitful.
Why Networking is Important to your Career
In today’s job market, artificial intelligence performs a lot of job application review. When a resume does land on a person’s desk, it’s often in a large stack. Now more than ever before, it’s critical to find ways to stand out from everyone else applying for the same job. If you want to advance your career by landing a better job, it’s all about who you know.
According to various sources, between 60 and 85 percent of jobs are filled through professional networking. When you have a good professional relationship with someone at a company you want to work for, you have a way to learn about upcoming opportunities before they’re publicly posted.
5 Networking Tips for a Successful Job Search
Unless you’re a sales superstar, the thought of networking probably sounds intimidating. Putting yourself out there and starting conversations with complete strangers doesn’t feel natural for a lot of people. But getting to know people can be a great experience – especially if it leads to you landing your dream job. Try these five networking tips to make the most of your opportunities:
- Develop clear professional goals. The first step for any job search should be to create a roadmap to success, and that involves goal-setting. You need to be able to talk about the reasons why you are open to new job opportunities. What are the next steps you need to take in your professional path? What are some organizations you would love to work with? How are you currently building a solid foundation for your career aspirations?
- Attend professional events. Ask your colleagues how they have used conferences, networking luncheons, and professional memberships to grow their networks. What worked for them could also work for you. Also, don’t automatically dismiss events that are not directly related to your current field. You never know where the next interesting opportunity may arise.
- Join alumni associations. High schools, colleges, and universities all maintain active alumni organizations. You’re already qualified for membership, and these groups are full of other graduates in various fields and levels in their careers. Joining an alumni association can be a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with old friends, expand your job search, and network with a wide variety of people.
- Work on your social media accounts. While you should always be yourself, you still need to look like someone people should take seriously, even when you’re not right in front of them. Spend a little extra time beefing up your LinkedIn profile and adding people you know to your Connections. You may also find LinkedIn’s professional groups and job listings to be helpful in your job search.
- Keep an open mind. First and foremost, networking is about making connections with people. Get to know a new person first, and then bring up your resume. Follow the conversations where they naturally flow. When you meet someone with more experience, share with them about one of your major professional pain points and absorb their wisdom. When getting to know a peer, bounce leadership or training ideas off each other and take their valuable insights back to the office with you.
The Value of Networking
It helps if you don’t think of networking as a series of mini interviews. First and foremost, networking is about getting to know people. When you connect with a contact, the idea is that you will be able to use your network to find a job some day, when the right opportunities arise. But in order for someone to recommend you for a position, they need to know, like, and trust you first. After all, they are putting their own reputation on the line by suggesting you for a job with their organization. So be honest, be yourself, and nurture your professional connections. And in the meantime, enjoy the conversations and keep finding other ways to grow.
Ready to learn more about executing an effective job search? Download the E-book, Job-Seeker’s Handbook for 30-Somethings.